Wir verlassen Lusaka auf der Great East Route, verfahren uns aber als wir noch einen Kettennieter für Tims brechende Kette abhohlen wollen.
Anfangs fahren wir noch an großen Industriellen Farm- und Mastbetrieben vorbei. Als die Landschaft hügeliger wird, geht dies jedoch wieder zu subsistenzwirtschaft über.
Erstaunlich wie viel Holzkohle transportiert wird. Überladene Fahrräder uns LKWs begegnen uns immer wieder. Am Straßenrand sieht man die schwellenden Erdhaufen, in denen die Kohle gebrannt wird. Gefällte Bäume liegen am Straßenrand. Dabei wird wohl ineffizient vorgegangen. Aufgrund eines Mangels an vernünftigem Werkzeug wie Sägen und Äxten werden nur die handhabbaren Teile des Baums verwendet und der Rest liegen gelassen.
Die Nacht campen wir an einer heißen Quelle. Mich plagen Kopfschmerzen und allgemeine Krankheitserschöpfung. Angst, dass es Malaria sein könnte. Am morgen ist dies aber größtenteils verschwunden. Kinder planschen in dem warmen Wasser und die Minibusse werden gewaschen.
Tim hat sich eine rustikale China Kette gekauft, die leider nicht auf die feingliedrigen Shimano-Ritzel passt. So fährt er seine ledierte Kette weiter.
Die Landschaft wird hügliger, bergiger. Auf einer vermeintlichen Passhöhe schlagen wir das Zelt auf. Am nästen Tag gibt es aber nicht die erhoffte Passhöhe sondern weiter viele Hügel. Wir kommen nach Luangwa und bestellen das übliche Enschima. Hühnchen wurde nicht geschlachtet und so wage ich mich an Fisch. Wir sind genau an einem Fluss, müsste also frisch sein. Sofort nach dem Mahl plagen mich Magenschmerzen. Wir wollen eigenlich auf den Campingplatz, uns geht aber das Geld aus. Nach einer Mittagspause bin ich wieder wohl auf.
Wir fahren weiter die Berge hoch, doch Tim erwicht es voll und kotzt alles aus. Es lag also nicht am Fisch sondern etwas an den Zutaten, die wir beide gegessen ahebn. So schlagen wir unser Lager im Busch auf.
Ein abendlicher Gewitterausläufer bringt die ersehnte Dusche.
Am morgen ist Tim wieder gut auf. Wir packen zusammen. Ich stehe mit dem Rücken zu Tim und belade mein Rad. Was er dann macht und sagt; keine Ahnung. Er steht mit einem heftig blutendem, bestimmt 8cm langen Schnitt auf dem rechten Knie da. Ich hohle meinen medikamenten Beutel mit den Kompressen raus. Erstaunlich wie rational man handelt. Ich mag Verletzungen, Blut, Spritzen und Ärzte am liebsten gar nicht ansehen. Wir tapen die Wunde rellativ fachmännich zusammen und packen eine Kompresse drüber. Wir hängen hier aber mitten im Busch an einem kaum befahrenen “Highway” mit den Rädern und Gepäck. Wenn wir hier zuzweit weg wollen brauchen wir schon etwas von der Größes eines Pick-Up aufwärts. An Radfahren ist nicht zu denken und die Wunde sieht aus, als müsste da ein Arzt dran.
Wir plazieren uns am Straßenrand und Tim verlangt ersteinmal nach einem Erdnussbutterbrot.
Der erste Pickup fährt einfach durch. Der folgende Truck hält aber. Unsere Räder werden aufgeladen.
Die fahrt nach Chipata wird lang. Von den acht Gängen, die der Volvo hat, werden nur die ersten drei gefahren. Und sehr oft der zusätzlich untersetzte erste Gang, wenn sich der mit süssigkeiten beladene Lastwagen die Berge runterquält. Sämtliche Anzeigen sind kaputt oder zeigen krumme Werte an. Die Tankanzeige steht auf leer. Man muss einen Stock in den Tank halten um zu sehen, wie voll er ist. Selbst der Tacho geht nicht. Einzig der Drehzahlmesser und die Kühlwasseranzeige tuns. Uns letztere zeigt beim Berghochfahren einen kochenden Kühler an.
Wir kommen in Chipata an, quartieren uns beim Wildlife Office ein und kurieren uns ersteinmal aus. Wärent Tim das verdorbene Enschima ausgekotzt hat, kämpfe ich damit noch immer.
It took us quite some time to finally leave Lusaka. Our first detour took us back to the internet café. I was in a real hurry to try organize the shipment of spare parts to Kampala or Nairobi and worried I wouldn’t get sufficient internet access to get things sorted out in time.
Obviously that wasn’t the case, but it contributed to the general confusion of that day.
After we got things more or less sorted we only had to pick up the chainbreaker (a tool used for opening and closing the bicycle chains, since my chain started tearing in Mazabuka as you might remember) from Tom’s office. Tom was with us at the epic river-picknick and well.. offered us his chainbreaker.
Fabian had communicated with Peter about the directions but apparantely there had been some confusion and so we ended up with a 15km detour for the chainbreaker. It was worth it. But because of that we didn’t leave Lusaka before noon.
The rest of the day we made quite good progress and after a while the terrain turned from flat farmland to more hilly, beautiful beautiful bush/forestland. We spent the night on a camping ground in view of the first mountain peaks I’ve seen since leaving Bavaria on March 5th which made me a little sentimental. You can really start missing mountains if you spent most of your life living in their sight. Likewise probably for the sea.
Anyway we had the mountains to the east and steaming hot springs in front of an amazing sunset to the west.
The next morning started with washing in the hot springs – the first hot water since the Fairford Farm, I think. We enjoyed it.
Then the second thing was a flat tyre… My tube had lost all it’s air over night. Now with all the punctures so far we got quite quick with changing tubes but still it’s annoying. Especially before you even get going.
Still I enjoyed that day. I had been looking forward to finally reaching the mountains I’d been seeing on the horizon all night long and I had a great time speeding down (and up) the hills. I think I also enjoyed it more than Fabian – he can’t quite understand my euphoria about mountains. I can understand him there…
The road crawled beautifully through the soft and sometimes steep foothills of even higher mountains towering in the distance. The day was hot but we were in good spirits even in the evening, when I had a second puncture and the last leg of the day was climbing up a pass for several kilometers. I think the road up was only three or fice Kilometers but it felt like at least 15 and it definetly was damn steep.
But as usual we were rewarded – not with a puncture this time – but with another one of those beautiful camping places.
We pitched the tent near a steep slope which opened the view over the next five mountain ranges to the north. The sun was once again setting in those pink to reddish tones, casting long shadows of the lower hills on the higher ones.
But the most amazing thing about this place was probably the star filled sky. I’ve rarely seen a sky like that (even in Africa which seems to be notorious for it’s nightskies).
Pitchblack with billions of those light spots called stars. The milky way would stretch over the sky like a broad white ribbon.
There is no way one can understand all the romantic poems and songs about the star filled sky from past periods in our time unless you have the opportunity to see the skies far away from any artificial light.
That might not be quite true. You might understand why people wrote those songs – we do have stars, don’t we? But the real cause for their inspiration lies hidden in Africa.
Now, every good story has it’s repeating elements, I guess. This one should have them to. So: The next day started with a puncture.
No kidding. Same tyre than the day before. Fixed it and set off. But by that time and in spite of that wonderful night frustration started rising.
The third day is always the day on which you feel weak and exhausted and your body cries for rest. Once you get past the third day proceeding is normally no problem.. but the third day is tough.
And this one was no exception.
We had made slow progress on the first two days, measured in Kilometers at least. We originally intended to arrive at Luangwa (Bridge) on the evening of the second day. Now starting the third day we were some 50km away from Luangwa, I had 1.5l water left, the terrain was even hillier, the sun hotter and after all it was the third day. Bad prepositions.
We got to Luangwa but at least I for my part lacked the energy of the first two days (and the euphoria as well). Having started with the puncture again and having my chain snap at some hill after 30km only made things worse.
I tried rationizing my water but by the time we arrived in Luangwa it was probably already too late.
We arrived there around noon, first thing had Nshima (because we thought we ran out of food that morning and hadn’t had lunch). Fabian with fish, I with “sausage”. I still can’t tell what was the bigger mistake – but afterwards we were both feeling sick.
We filled up water at the Bridge Camp (that wouldn’t let us stay there for free) but I couldn’t drink. For some reason I just couldn’t drink proper amounts – I would only take little sips, feeling even worse afterwards. Then we tried to continue cycling after a half hour break (adding to the one from eating).
It did not work well. The sun was still burning and we had just crossed the river when I vomited for the first time (also of the entire tour). I vomited all the way up the next hill until I decided I could not go on.
Fabian by that time was feeling better again but seeing how sick I was he had no problem waiting patiently with me in the shade.
At some point – after I had got rid of almost all the Nshima – I could finally drink again and took that as the sign to proceed.
Bad idea again. We cycled down the hill again, up one more hill and half down another one until I decided I felt to nauseic (word?) to continue. That was at .. 3p.m.
By that time I was physically weak and couldn’t even push my bike up the slope were we wanted to pitch our tent. Fabian did that for me, he also pitched the tent and tried to help me as far as possible. And I was only lying in the shade for hours waiting for the coolness of the evening and even better the night, convinced everything would be better the next day.
At least in that I was right. By the next day I had survived whatever struck me that day and felt strong again. Although I first thought it was from the Nshima I know think it would rather have been due to the heat in some way because during the last two hours of the day I drank three litres and felt unnaturally hot.
Now the next day did not start with a puncture! Way better.
Some ten minutes after getting up and packing the tent – even before breakfeast(!) – I tried to lift my bike.
My vertical bottle holder is attached with two metal laces of which I’ve got no clue what they are called (even in German). One of them was slightly damage and had a sharp edge pointing out of which I didn’t know.
No trying to lift my bike I cut my knee on that edge really bad.
It looked horrible. Blood was literally spurting from the wound which appeared as if I had sliced my whole knee open. I instinctively pressed my hand on the wound, surprised by how effectively the bloodflow was suppressed by that.
Fabian in the meanwhile – I don’t know how he did that but I was heavily surprised – had opened his bags for the First Aid material and everything at hand within seconds.
We whiped most of the blood (it was a lot of blood) away with our everything else than clean toilet paper and did a good job at closing the wound with those clips and bandadging it.
Neither of us had ever handled a open wound like that and later Fabian admitted he really had problems with the sight of blood. Once again I had to be really grateful of his proffessionalism if things matter.
I certainly wouldn’t have died from the wound but things would have been way harder without him handing me the things needed.
And again Fabian had to carry my bike down the slope. I couldn’t move my knee properly. Not that it was hurting (it really wasn’t), it was rather that I couldn’t move my it because of the bandadge and the fear of making things worse.
That’s when our frustration-leg from Lusaka – Chipata came to it’s end. The knee as a lever is one of the main participants in cycling, the wound thus leaving me invalid.
Fabian to add to all this was feeling worse and ill himself now and we decided it would be best to take a ride to Chipata to get my knee and his stomach fixed again. In a place we didn’t have to camp in the bush, might have semi-clean conditions for wound management, a doctor at hand if necessary and especially a constant food supply.
We laid me down next to the road in one of those serious looking first aid positions and it took some estimated 10 minutes for a truck to stop and take us to Chipata. We were charged way too much for that ride but we didn’t have our minds on bargaining when entering the driver’s cabin and the road has so few traffic that we couldn’t afford being picky anyway.
That’s pretty much it about that exciting story. Well except for that the wound turned out to be way less severe than expected (0.5cm x 5cm, estimated by the size of the dressings we applied) and is healing well.
In return Fabian’s condition worsened and he suffered from some annoying diggestive problems for the last two days, so I guess we both profited from the time we had to spend here.
We took the time to read a lot (Nicole – David’s girlfriend – the “American Couple” – gave me her copy of ‘The Cider House Rules’ of which I am half way through by now), I switched my back tyre with my spare tyre (hoping for less punctures…), fixed the punctured tubes, wrote a lot and we’re going to get a haircut at the bushbarber now!
Oh and I have the certain feeling I finally got the shipment of the parts more or less organized.
Here great thanks to my mother. She’s extremly supportive and patient with my constantly changing plans while trying to send me the things I keep ordering. Thanks so much
Now after this very adventureous, frustrating, tough and still pretty cool and beautiful leg and rest in Chipata tomorrow we’ll probably finally be proceeding to Malawi!
Going north through Malawi to Chitipa where we will go to Mpulungu, Zambia, and take the Ferry on the 20th(!).
They apparently changed the schedule back to every two weeks and according to Murphy’s Law their schedule doesn’t work with ours. So we have to be there one week earlier than expected.
That leaves us with 17 days for some 1000kms of which 200 are gravel road and most of them hilly. I guess that’s doable. Otherwise we’ll have to make new plans somehow again…